I’ve always wished more local yoga studios would offer classes at 3 pm. Why? Because that’s the time when, like many people, I often find my energy waning. Rather than reach for a sugary snack or a cup of coffee, wouldn’t it be great to practice some yoga instead?
Of course, now with apps like Track Yoga, I can do a bit of yoga right in my office! And often, I do. You don’t need to do a full 90-minute class to get your energy back when you’re starting to slump. Ten or fifteen minutes of energy-boosting yoga will do the trick.
So how exactly can a practice so popular for its ability to calm the mind and relax the body also be used to boost energy? The answer is by creating balance. When you’re tired, you’re likely suffering an imbalance in energy somewhere. Something is “off” mentally, physically, or even emotionally. By creating balance, yoga will give you what you need to combat fatigue, whether that means clearing the cobwebs out of your head, stretching after sitting at your desk for hours, or getting your blood flowing again.
Here are three ways to use yoga to bounce back from an afternoon slump.
There’s nothing like vinyasa yoga if you need some energy. When you flow from one pose to another, you build endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals that are produced during exercise. Even a ten-minute vinyasa sequence—a few sun salutations, lunges, planks, forward bends, and downward dogs, for example—can give you an all-over energy boost.
Yoga is all about the breath. When you breathe fully and deeply, oxygen flows better, which means you’ll have more energy. Two breathing techniques to try when your energy is low are breath of fire and alternate nostril breathing. Breath of fire is a rapid diaphragmatic breathing technique from the Kundalini tradition; the very purpose of this technique is to awaken energy. Alternate nostril breathing—the practice of breathing in and out through one nostril while closing off the other—is a more balancing technique. It can help calm anxiety (which saps energy) as well as improve mental focus.
3. Build strength
If you practice yoga on a regular basis, sooner or later you’ll notice another lasting effect that will help keep your stamina and energy up. Yoga will make you stronger (yes, you can build muscle over time with yoga), and being stronger will give you an edge when it comes to dealing with slumping energy. If you doubt this, step away from your desk and do a forearm plank. If you can hold the pose for a minute, I’ll bet you’re also able to get through the afternoon without a major lapse in energy. You can build toward the strength needed for this kind of lasting energy by weaving a few power yoga sessions into your weekly yoga routine.
Yes, once in a while, you’re going to reach for the coffee or the candy bar to get a quick energy fix, but if you want lasting energy and strength, get on your yoga mat more often instead.